House GOP tees up revived surveillance bill

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House Republicans are preparing a second attempt at passing legislation reauthorizing a controversial surveillance power.

The Rules Committee will take up legislation Wednesday that would make changes to and extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The authority is meant to target foreigners abroad but has come under scrutiny for its ability to sweep in Americans.

A spokesperson for Majority Leader Steve Scalise didn’t immediately respond to a question about timing for a vote. But individuals involved in the closed-door discussion told POLITICO they expect the bill to be on the floor Thursday or Friday.

First it will need to get through the Rules Committee, where Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan last year to bring competing bills to the floor ultimately unraveled.

Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who are both members of the Judiciary Committee, along with Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), have the combined ability to block a bill in Rules absent Democratic help. They could also be a barometer for the bill’s reception among privacy hawks, members of the Freedom Caucus and their allies.

POLITICO first reported last Wednesday that Johnson was leaning toward bringing a bill to the floor this week after leadership revived a GOP working group aimed at bridging the party’s surveillance divisions.

Two individuals briefed on the discussion told POLITICO late last week and over the weekend that there are expected to be approximately six votes on amendments to the bill, including on a warrant requirement before searching 702-collected data for Americans information and on preventing data brokers from selling consumer information to law enforcement.

The revised bill comes after intense closed-door negotiations about the path forward after the Judiciary and Intelligence committees offered competing proposals late last year.

Technically Congress has until mid-April to work out a deal, but Republicans have hinted that Johnson wants quicker action. The House is currently scheduled to leave after Friday until Feb. 28. When they return, Congress is expected to be consumed by twin government funding deadlines and averting a shutdown threat.

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